Last summer, following the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK, many places and communities experienced increased visitor numbers including camping and motorhomes often not using formal sites. Tourism is exceptionally important to Argyll and Bute’s local economy and we want to welcome as many people as sustainably possible, to enjoy the places we are fortunate to call home.
Informal camping activity has experienced much greater interest driven by a number of factors including restrictions on foreign travel, closure of some accommodation (including campsites), and financial insecurity for many, and the “discovery of outdoor activities” during lockdown.
The vast majority of visitors to Argyll and Bute respect the people and places they visit. However, in certain circumstances, challenges can occur which lead to complaints to various public agencies (Littering, inappropriate disposal of toilet waste, inconsiderate parking, etc.). Sometimes the problem can simply be the volume and frequency of people using a particular area, week after week. The council is very conscious that if some types of restrictions persist due to the pandemic, we may face some challenges in certain areas.
The council often does not own land in the areas where problems can occur and does not necessarily have the powers to address issues, and has very limited resources to deal with the problems.
The council is however in a position to facilitate work with other agencies, community groups, business and land owners to try and alleviate some of the problems. The council has already been working to help local development trusts and community based organisations access funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. While many private businesses and communities have also expanded their provision of pitches or have the potential to do so.
There are great examples already of local business and communities providing initiatives that help support visitors. For example:
- Islay community runs a successful campsite generating profit which is then reinvested back into the community
- The Isle of Tiree’s Croft Camping/Motorhome scheme
Community, church and sports clubs might be interested in potentially offering a limited number of spaces to stay overnight in their car parks in return for a donation, if appropriate permissions are achieved. By highlighting good practice it may be possible for communities, businesses and landowners to provide additional facilities helping to reduce pressure elsewhere.
There are some actions we have already identified which are being investigated and progressed.
The council has already approached a number of partners for information to support this work and have established an inter-agency working group, including Police Scotland, private sector businesses, Visit Scotland, NFUS, Forestry & Land Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Isles Tourism Cooperative, as well as colleagues from across the council to advise on planning, grant funding and other issues.
As part of this work we need to gather further information from communities across Argyll and Bute.
We would be grateful if you could complete the following online questionnaire on behalf of your community. This survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes of your time.
The link to the survey can be found here-
If you would like any further information please get in touch with: firstname.lastname@example.org